Two FARC guerrillas were sentenced to nineteen years and three months in jail for the kidnap of the three U.S. contractors, who were later rescued by the Colombian military in “Operation Checkmate.”
A Caqueta judge found Eli Mejia Mendoza, alias “Martin Sombra,” and Alexander Farfan Perez, alias “Gafas,” guilty of the aggravated kidnapping for ransom of Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell in 2003.
Martin Sombra confessed to the kidnappings in February.
The same judge sentenced FARC guerrillas Wilkin Fernando Lugo Ortiz and Jose Armando Cadena Cabrera, alias “Bronco,” to 22 years in jail for the crimes of homicide and aggravated kidnapping for ransom.
The three American security contractors were kidnapped by the FARC on 13 February, 2003, when their plane crashed while flying over the Caqueta jungle on an anti-narcotics mission. After crash-landing, pilot Tommy Janis and Colombian army sergeant Luis Alcides Cruz were murdered.
The three contractors spent over five years in FARC captivity, and were part of the group famously liberated by the Colombian military on 2 July, 2008, in “Operation Checkmate” along with then-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.
The prosecutor general said that Martin Sombra and Gafas are still under investigation for other crimes they allegedly committed during their time as FARC guerrillas.